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Genetic Engineering - Wrong In The Premises?

The nature effects get declared today as a rule in a mechanical way and not a dynamic - imaginary type in the significations of Goethe. Nature becomes unnatural and abnorm if it is looked at in that way. The comprehension of the plants, the animals, the total organical world will be minted by materialistical reductionism, which holds in the genetic modification his triumphal procession. Many scientists are fascinated from the seeming possibilities; a not inconsiderable number of states and firms invested in recent years milliards of amounts in the green GE-technologies in the hope of new jobs and profits - who until now yet (because of too low acceptance of such manipulated products in the population) left out.

But GE-scientists and GE-technologists nowadays act according the Goethe-word: „Everybody does only listen to what he understands"

Some years ago Mr. Robert Shapiro (Monsanto) said: "Those of us in industry can take comfort of a sort from such obvious Luddism. After all, we're the technical experts. We know we're right. The 'antis' obviously don't really understand the science, and are just as obviously pushing a hidden agenda - probably to destroy capitalism" (1).

A Biotechnology Industry Organization commenting on the nomination of former agbiotech executive Ann Veneman as George Bush's Secretary of Agriculture: "She is an independent thinker of sound judgment and vast experience. She knows the science, the politics, and she knows how to make a sound decision on complicated and difficult issues. We are delighted with her selection, it is hard to imagine a better choice" (2).

Mr. Verfaillie (Monsanto) in Davos: "We are very confident that in 2001 there are going to be more biotech acres than there were in 2000" (3).

A State Department official, commenting on Zimbabwe and other nations' resistance to accepting shipments of US food aid containing genetically engineered ingredients: "Beggars can't be choosers" (4)

Mr. Thompson, US Secretary of Health and Human Services: "Mandatory labeling will only frighten consumers. Labeling implies that biotechnology products are unsafe" (5)

Such viewpoints cause necessarily comments. For instance: "It's sundown on the union. Made in the USA. Sure was a good idea, until greed took it all away." Bob Dylan, "Sundown on the Union," Infidels (1983) or another comment by Manville (2001): "There are 800 million hungry people in the world; 34,000 children starve to death every day. There are those who consider this a tragedy, and then there are the biotech companies and their countless PR firms, who seem to consider it a flawless hook for product branding.  It is an insult of the highest and most grotesque order to turn those who live from day to day into the centerpiece of an elaborate lie [i.e. that biotech crops will feed the world].  The companies who make [GE foods], and the flacks who hawk their falsehoods, offer us a new definition of depravity, a new standard to plunge for in our race to care least, want more, and divest ourselves of all shame" (6).

Consumer organisations in the US have gathered a lot of comments and critizism on GMO. But as we’ll turn out later they work hard but haven’t been successful yet. They almost didn’t find out why the basis of this kind of scientific research and GE-technology is wrong. Why there is a lack of original feeling of truth for instance, as it is stressed in the background issues regarding GE at: <>; especially volume 2 issue 1/2003 of e-zine for Natural Science in the sense of Goethe (7).

What’s going wrong with modern GE-scientists and -technologists, who search and experimentalize today in the biotechnology? Are they scientists of format, or just small minded, whose mistake lies therein, that they go out from one single, special fact - for example the seeming interchangeability of gene segments - , without knowing actually the total effect spectrum? Are they week and small minded in the significations of Goethe?

„ The mistake of weak minded poeple is, that they go in the reflecting at once from the singularity to the generally; in-place that one only can search the generally at the total (Nat.Schr. V, 375).

The next seizable causes are easily being grasped, and even therefore most comprehensible; wherefore we think us lief as mechanical, what is of higher type (Ibid. 372).

According to Goethe science can get inflicted also damage; then namely, if human beings, who have no interest for the generally, occupy themselves with sciences, because it will be polluted thus with unscientifical interests. Science make possible a way of acting, that does not direct against the laws of nature, also not doing senseless  experiments, but places the laws of nature in his service. This point of view implies, that you may find wise scientists, but also scientists with a so-called „ pseudo-wisdom", who make science unsure and derange it by their special immaturities. What does it actually mean?

„ Die Afterweisen suchen von jeder neuen Entdeckung nur so geschwind als möglich für sich einigen Vorteil zu ziehen, indem sie einen eitlen Ruhm bald in Fortpflanzung, bald in Vermehrung, geschwinder Besitznahme, vielleicht gar durch Präoccupation zu erwerben trachten und durch solche Unreifheiten die wahre Wissenschaft unsicher machen und verwirren, ja ihre schönste Folge, die praktische Blüte derselben, offenbar verkümmern " (Nat.Schr. V, 384).

„ One disastrous mischief in the sciences, yes everywhere, arises therefore, that human beings, who have no ideas property, presume to theorize, because they don’t understand, that still a lot of knowing does not entitle hereto" (Ibid, 386).

This can even lead to absurdities, and this mainly because „higher thinking, concluding and judging " are abilities which these scientists don’t have.

Every creature is purpose of himself. Goethe speaks of a physiological perfectibility. Even, if it looks so, that over 90 percent of the genes of most organisms are inactive, you cannot say that they have no meaning: As soon as one manipulates a genome technically, it can happen, that single of the inactively gene-segments sudden get actively and it comes to unpredictably changes of that Organism. The FAZ reported in their article „All clones genetical cripples? " at the 18. September 2002 on problems by the cloning of mice: „.. .apparently the genetical program of the cloned animals is, if external healthful, or not, disturbed in many places." Today it is possible to prove by analysis of metabolisms incidents for example in plants, that genetic modified plants only have a reduced metabolisms activity. The symptoms of metabolism are comparable with those of sicker, or dying creatures. In contrast the metabolisms products of the genetically not changed healty plants are in kind and quantity manifold.

Here nature is not only contorted through hypotheses, genetic modification shows itself as a heavy weighing intervention, which leads in many cases to the dying off. For establishing genetical changes in an herbal, or animal type, thousands of test copies die. Only few endure the intervention and being kept alive with much chemistry and hormones.

According an US study all cloned animals are abnormal. Maggie Fox (2002), health and science correspondent wrote: Cloned mice have hundreds of abnormal genes, which explains why so many cloned animals die at or before birth and proves it would be irresponsible to clone a human being, scientists said. The process of cloning introduces the genetic mutations, and there seems no immediate way around the problem, Rudolf Jaenisch and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of  Technology reported. Even before Dolly the sheep became the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, in 1997, researchers have known that cloning is difficult. The most common cloning method is called nuclear transfer and involves taking the nucleus out of an egg cell, replacing it with the nucleus from a cell of the animal to be cloned, and then "reprogramming" the creation so the egg begins dividing as if it had been fertilized by a sperm. Only one of every several hundred eggs ever start dividing and of these, only a small percentage result in pregnancies. Many of the animals that survive to birth die soon after, or develop abnormalities of the lung, liver and other organs. Jaenisch and colleagues at MIT's Whitehead Institute, working with Ryuzo Yanagimachi of the University of Hawaii, who was the first to clone mice, made dozens of cloned mice and then looked at the activity of 10,000 genes using a gene chip. Writing in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they looked mostly at the placentas of the newborn mice, long assumed to be the source of the problem, but also at the livers of some of the clones. They found many abnormal genes. The pattern was so clear that they could tell normal mice from cloned mice by looking at the results of the gene chip study, they reported. "There is no reason in the world to assume that any other mammal, including humans, would be different from mice," Jaenisch said. He said the finding should convince anyone who doubted the danger of trying to clone a human, referring to last summer's debate between he and other cloning experts, and three scientists who said they planned to try to clone human babies to help infertile couples. "It settles the old question ... about how normal can clones be," Jaenisch said. The issue has been debated in the U.S. Congress and competing bills would outlaw attempts to clone a human being, and some would outlaw using cloning technology in human beings at all. Several cloning researchers have said their cloned livestock, such as cattle, sheep and pigs, are normal and healthy if they get past birth. Jaenisch believes genetic abnormalities will be found even in these seemingly normal animals. Some of the abnormalities are simply not fatal, he said. Many of the problems the team found were in so-called imprinted genes, involved in the development of the embryo. In the imprinting process only the copies of a gene that a baby gets from its father are turned on. "Almost 50 percent of those were incorrectly expressed," Jaenisch said (8).

Though there are many unsolved questions and a mechanistical way of looking at nature cannot enforce an herbal and animals knowledge, worldwide guiding GE-groups as Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta and Delta & Pine assisted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) hustle on the inset of their genetically modified seed - kinds. Some environmental organisations in the US speak of an „US Agro - terrorism ".

One time widely released, from the human beings no more control will be possible and cross out over bees, bumblebees and many other important pollinators. Particularly over the seeds of the feral plants and cash crops it disposes over unimagined breeding rates - not to mention the Terminator - technology and the so-called „suicide- seeds ".

The most EU - citizen and an increasing number of genetic modification - deprecators from USA and Canada wish no genetically changed products in their meal and also the majority of the German and European farmers and bee keepers reject the addition of genetically changed organisms (GMO); nevertheless the EU - commission has presented a seeds legislation, which contributes to the spreading of such plants: according a guidelines draft every seeds shall contain between 0, 3 and 0, 7 percent GMO, without getting labelled. Briefly: In January 2002 a draft proposal regarding thresholds for GM contamination of conventional seeds was sent out by the Commission. Within seeds a contamination with GMO which are not approved in the EU would not be acceptable in any case. As far as approved GM seeds are  concerned, the Commission proposed tolerance levels of 0.3% for rape and cotton, 0.5% for beet seed, fodder plant seed, cereal seed, seed-potatoes and vegetable seed and 0.7% for soya beans.

The consequences, which surrender thereof we are only too good aquainted with from USA and Canada: Almost the total acreage of the involved kinds (for example oil seed rape, maize, soybean, potatoes) could be put through with GMO, without that the farmers could control and avoid this. The crossing out and possible re-incrossing with feral relatives were just as little to control as the hibernation of GMO. Not only organic farmers, -breeders and -beekeepers are thereof involved, but the total product pallet, honey closed-in, will not be able to be sold on the European market.

But also in Europe we can make experiences with GMO and interbreeding. According Geoffrey Lean (2002) alarming new results from official trials of GM crops are severely jeopardizing Government plans for growing them commercially in Britain. The results, in a new Government report, show for the first time in Britain that genes from GM crops are interbreeding on a large scale with conventional ones, and also with weeds. The report, the result of six years of monitoring of GM crops in Britain, is particularly politically explosive and it gives the first results from the official farm-scale trials, which ministers have been running to test the suitability of growing GM crops in Britain. The Government has repeatedly said that the results of the trials would settle the question of whether GM crops endangered the environment. The report covers true studies carried out between 1994 and 2000 by the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and the Laboratory of the Government Chemist. It shows that genes from GM oil seed rape, specially engineered to be resistant to herbicides, contaminated conventional crops as far as 200 yards away. Equally alarmingly, GM oil seed rape that escaped from a crop harvested in 1996 persisted for at least four years, until studies ended in 2000. In another case, the report adds: "It was found that some combine harvesters were not cleaned after the harvesting of the GM crop,'' and "subsequently flushed out'' the GM seed on to ground intended for conventional crops "causing contamination of this field.'' Most worryingly of all, the report shows that the GM crop readily interbred with a weed, wild turnip, giving it resistance to herbicides and thus raising the prospect of the development of "super weeds". The report concludes that the research "indicates that commercial-scale releases of GM oil seed rape in future could pollinate other crops and wild turnip''. Other studies from elsewhere in the world have shown that interbreeding occurs, and English Nature, the Government's wildlife watchdog, has said super weeds will "inevitably'' emerge in Britain if GM crops are grown commercially. Pete Riley of Friends of the Earth said the results showed that if GM crops became widespread, almost all similar crops would inevitably become contaminated, severely threatening organic agriculture. He added: "It is not surprising that the Government has tried to cover up this report. "It shows that we need to know a great deal more about these issues before we even contemplate growing GM crops commercially.'' (9)

In USA GE-companies and their allies ask themselves: What can be done with all the GMO - contaminated products? Nobody wants it. Fred Guter (2003) noted: „ America is isolated " (10). Now one tried to give it away to the world hunger aid.  Understandable, that the adressee countries defend themselves against it. Incomprehensible are exhibitations of the well known editor of „Nature and science "at the Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ), Dr. Joachim Müller-Jung, who has the opinion one requires in reference of the green genetically engineering „ a long breath and much - till now still missing - experience" - which certainly could already be collected in the USA and Canada. He doesn’t want to concede the gene technology branch a charter, nevertheless he thinks: „ with the end of the moratorium and with the for short time obtained and difficult achieved accommodation of the Secretary of Agriculture at a threshold value at the impureness of plant semen with transgenic material, show us the end of a long thirst route " (11). He speaks of the foolish „Rejection of the foodstuff aid through the african states with the reference to maybe 'health endangering pollutions' through transgenic soy -, or maize - plants" which ultimately are also the fatal cause of flat rates sharpen to point, „ which over briefly, or long cannot be excruciated by further single results from the research " (12).

It shows again how scientists today are searching without knowing that they have build their fundaments on sand. Paul Nielson (2003) European Union Development Commissioner, referring to the increasingly bitter EU/US conflict over genetically engineered food: "The deal would be this: if the Americans would stop lying about us, we would stop telling the truth about them" (13). Mae Wan-Ho/PhD (2003): "There is no need for GM (genetically modified) crops; no one wants them, not famine-stricken African nations, and very possibly, not even the biotech corporations themselves, judging from the spectacular cutbacks and spin-outs of agricultural biotechnology and major retreats from funding academic research over the past year" (14).

However there are existing scientists who realize the premises are wrong. USA and Canada have strong consumer organisations like OCA - but they were not able yet to compete with tricky methods of Gene-giants and USDA shown by the fact that in Canada for instance still more than 60% of grown rape is genetically modified and In USA nearly 80% of soybeans are GM-soy (In Argentina it is nearly 100%! - as they have no properly working consumer organisations at all), on top of that there are about 80% of grown cotton in USA GE-cotton. The US consumer organisations detect for instance how USDA sells illegal corn in 2003: Iowa farmers and an environmental group charged the U.S. government with selling a problem supply of genetically engineered corn to a feed company despite complaints that the corn had caused hormonal problems in pigs. The Iowa Farmers Union (IFU) and Friends of the Earth sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, asking the USDA to bar use of the corn in human or animal food "as long as the cause of reproductive failure in swine is unresolved." More than 20 farmers have complained over the last two years about sows that ate the corn developing pseudopregnancy, exhibiting signs of pregnancy for a full term without carrying a fetus. The corn is being tested to see if it caused or contributed to the problems, the groups said. They complained that despite the potential problems, the U.S. Commodities Credit Corporation sold 950 bushels of the suspect corn on Jan. 9 to the G&R Grain and Feed Company in Portsmouth, Iowa. "They thought they could sell a minute amount and blend it in with other corn and the farmers would accept it," said Iowa Farmers Union representative Lori Sokolowski.  "Why would USDA Secretary Veneman allow her Department to sell this corn to a feed company before finishing a scientific investigation to learn if it is harmful to pigs or other farm animals?" said IFU's Chris Peterson. The sows in question had all eaten a genetically modified corn, some of which was also found contaminated with a type of mold. Researchers have not yet determined what about the corn could cause the hormonal changes, but have not been able to rule out the corn as the cause, the farmers  union said. "Their hormones are all messed up. The veterinarians couldn't figure out what was wrong with the sows," said Sokolowski. Friends of the Earth, an activist group generally opposed to biotech crops, said it had been corresponding for months with the USDA on this matter. A letter from the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration dated Oct. 29 said "scientists are testing the corn to determine if it contains a novel toxin that might impact swine production," but no final determination had ever been communicated. The farmers union and Friends of the Earth acknowledged that researchers at Iowa State University have said that genetically engineered Bt corn is not the cause of swine reproductive failures experienced by numerous local farmers. But they said, research has not not concluded whether some other aspect of the corn was causing the problems. The USDA has about 22,000 bushels of the suspect corn, having obtained it as collateral on a loan to the operators of a Harlan, Iowa, farm. The groups said the FSA attempted in late 2002 to sell the corn for ethanol production but it was rejected by a local processor. "When there is a mysterious problem that could affect the fate of farmers, our health and the environment, we need answers - not attempts to sweep it under the rug like the USDA has done," said Friends of the Earth spokesman Larry Bohlen (15).

Nevertheless consumer and environment organisations have difficulties to realize the cause of such a widespread of GMO in these countries. USDA scientists, Mr Müller-Jung and many researchers think, the green genetic engineering may admittedly be not fully developed, but is able to become more and more mature. Howerver, they don’t get the idea, genetic modification may already be in the base, in the premises false.

What Goethe says regarding physics, one can say today about biotechnology: „ And that is just that greatest disater of the new physics, that one has separated the experiments quasi from the human beings, and merely in that, what artificial instruments show, discern the nature, yes what she can turn out, want to limit and prove by them" (Nat.Schr. 351).

Who is not able to grab the difference of the fantastical and imaginary, of what is according the rules of nature and what is hypothetical, is as a nature researcher in a bad situation (Nat.Schr. 358).

The thinking human being has the whimsical characteristic, that he to the place, where the not dissolved problem lies, gladly places a phantasy figure and fantastic stories when his imagination has gone wild, which he cannot get rid of, even if that problem is dissolved and the truth at the day. Who is accustomed to a wrong idea or misconception, will welcome each falsity (Nat.Schr. 359).

In a good situation are researchers from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS): Following an article (16) of Montague (2003) we can find that in August 2002 the FDA received the safety report it had requested from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Here's how the WASHINGTON POST summarized the NAS study: "Genetic manipulation of animals poses serious risks to the environment and potentially to human health, and federal efforts to manage those risks are disorganized and probably inadequate, a panel of the National Academy of Sciences said yesterday" (17). A month later the WASHINGTON POST reported that the animal cloning industry is likely to start selling its products to consumers, unlabeled, as early as 2003, regardless of FDA's request for a continuing moratorium, because the industry needs to see a return on its substantial investment in cloning technology (18).

In the end we’ll look at the premises again and realize, that it's being found also in the laws, if researchers start out from wrong premises: Regulation of the biotech food industry by the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) is premised upon a concept called "substantial equivalence." Crops grown by biotech methods are allowed onto the market without detailed safety testing because they are assumed to be "substantially equivalent" to non-biotech crops. In other words, a tomato given an antifreeze gene from a flounder is considered by FDA to be "substantially equivalent" to a normal tomato because it is, after all, still a tomato (19).

Things become more and more obscure, not because the spread of the truth and the clear is hindered, but because the false is being brought on the track.

A last story according Montague (2003): Corn is known as one of the more promiscuous plants, spreading its pollen readily to its neighbors. To prevent "biopharmed" pollen from contaminating conventional corn fields, USDA requires that experimental plots not be grown closer than 1320 feet (a quarter-mile) from any other corn field. The assumption is that insects, birds, rodents, wind, floods, tornadoes and humans will never carry biopharmed pollen further than a quarter-mile. In 2001 biopharmers and government regulators expressed confidence that they could prevent genetically-altered corn from contaminating the nation's food supply with biopharmed drugs, vaccines, contraceptives, industrial plastics, detergents, or adhesives. "What's valuable to us needs to be extracted from the corn, so we never let it get out of our hands," said Anthony Laos of ProdiGene. Kathryn Stein, an FDA official said, "Also, we have control over the disposal of all waste materials [corn residues]... and we will restrict that so that it does not go into food or feed" (20). Still even the biopharm industry itself didn't seem entirely convinced that USDA's regulations were adequate to protect the nation's food supply. October 22, 2002 the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), a trade association, announced that some of its members had voluntarily agreed to ban biopharm experiments in major corn growing states. BIO officials could not say how long the voluntary ban would last, and not all biopharm firms are members of BIO. Elected officials in major corn-growing states like Iowa vowed to fight the ban because, they said, their farmers desperately need the biopharming business (21). The food industry wasn't convinced BIO's voluntary ban would protect the nation's food supply and continued to lobby Congress for a new law preventing any biopharm experiments using food crops. Food processors want biopharmers to use only non-food crops like tobacco, but biopharmers say this is impractical. "'We want to ensure that our corn is protected. We are concerned,' said Mark Dollins, a spokesman for Pepsico, Inc., [a] unit of Quaker Oats, which has a breakfast-cereal factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a state that is spending millions of dollars to attract biopharming firms interested in working on corn plants,  [Iowa's] biggest crop," according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL (22).

Such laws and concepts, be it now the new EU - directive 2001/110/EC, which allows ultrafiltration of the honey, or the EU - Bio - regulation 2092/91, which allows industrial bee keeping methods, or the EU and USDA rules concerning socalled novel food  - they all have one common: By reading the laws and commentaries one feels in a similar way Goethe did by reading one physics textbook, in which the material theory of the light is being discussed; the light shall be a fine matter, consisting of endless small particles, molecules fit together which consist of polygons (polyhedrons):

„ As some years ago Mr Biot’s strong corpulently physics came to our face, especially the fourth part, the most interesting for us and the most corpulent, appeared, we have deplored the appreciate men, to whom studies and business the necessity imposed, to sort out such an abracadabra of numbers and figures, as we could already convince us by review of the premises, that many needless and false being contained in this mass of paper " (Nat.Schr. V, 299f).

Full version in:  e-Zine Natural Science Volume 2 Issue 1/2003

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